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pumpkin feta tarts

Basic shortcrust pastry is so so so easy, I don’t get it why people buy frozen?  Puff pastry, ok, that’s  a bit tricky (but still worth making your own).  Phyllo, yep, right, I buy that most of the time.  But shortcrust – nah,  it takes less to make your own than it does to peel off that blue plastic, and you get to use real butter and no nasty transfats.

The recipe quantities and temperatures and times are a bit vague, because it really doesn’t matter too much.  The more butter (and the less water) in your pastry, the more melt-in-the-mouth it is, but also the harder to handle (and the more calories).  If you use lots of butter, you need to get it quite cool, or the butter melts as you are trying to roll it out and it gets sticky.  But it’s very delicious and you can make the pastry quite thick and the star of the dish.  If you are in a hurry, or the pastry is not the star of the dish, you can go light on the butter and roll it out thin for a more cracker-like pastry that is easy to handle.

That’s it really.  All the rest is elaboration on the theme.

You can use cream or sour cream or oil in place of butter, but it works like melted butter and the pastry is harder to handle and might need to be rolled between sheets of greaseproof paper.  If you have an egg white elsewhere in a recipe, you can substitute an egg yolk for part of the butter and it makes it slightly less “short” but still delicious and easier to handle than all butter.  Any saturated fat (that sets solid at room temperature) can be substituted for the butter and you are just thinking about the taste rather than the texture. If you are using a low fat pastry and a low fat filling, a bit of “blind baking” first stops the filling soaking into the pastry and making it soggy.  Blind baking just means covering your pastry with greaseproof paper and filling with uncooked beans, or rice, or chickpeas or something similar, and cooking for 10 minutes or so before filling.  The beans are dry already so it doesn’t hurt them.  If the pastry, or the filling, has a lot of butter, oil, cheese or eggs it, the pastry won’t go soggy and there’s usually no need.

The flour needs to be flour – it is the little grains of starch in it exploding that makes pastry. It can be wholemeal or unbleached, but other flours like besan behave differently.  You can make pastry from them but it is a different story.  Self-raising flour is a different story too.

The recipe makes 12 tartlets. They are perfect for lunch boxes, or party finger food – which is where these went. These are really quick and simple, and they were a party hit.

The Pastry:

You can do this in a food processor, or just cut the butter into tiny cubes and rub it into the flour with your fingertips, till it resembles breadcrumbs. (My nanna used to say that the best pastry makers have cool hands, because the object of the exercise is to have tiny flecks of un-melted butter mixed through the flour.)

  • 1 cup of wholemeal plain flour (wholemeal or unbleached)
  • 2 heaped dessertspoons of cold butter
  • pinch salt

Add just enough cold water to make a soft dough.  Add it  carefully, spoonful at a time.  Put your dough in the fridge to cool down while you start the pumpkin off.

The Filling:

Peel, dice, and roast a cup and a half of pumpkin and one larg-ish red onion.  Dice the pumpkin into 1 to 1.5 cm dice.  You can sprinkle with a bit of fresh thyme if you have some.  It will cook really quickly – you’ll just have time to roll out the  pastry.

Blend together:

  • 2 eggs
  • a big dessertspoon of plain yoghurt (or cream, or sour cream)
  • 100 grams Danish or Greek feta (the smooth kind, preferably)
  • A little grating of parmesan

I use my food processor for the pastry, then without needing to wash it, for the filling.  But you could also just beat them together with an egg beater.

Assembling and baking:

Grease 12 muffin tins or tart cases.

On a floured benchtop, roll the dough out, cut out 12 circles and line the tart cases.  My regular sized muffin tray is perfect for this, and the lid from one of my large storage jars is perfect for cutting the pastry out.

Spoon the pumpkin and onion evenly into the tart cases. Spoon the egg and feta mix evenly over them.

Bake in a medium-hot oven for around 20 to 30 minutes, till the tart cases are crisp and colouring and the egg mix is set.

They are best is you let them cool before eating. No Teo, they aren’t cool yet.


honey roasted figs and pecans with feta salad

The riff of sweet, caramelised figs, salty white cheese, peppery leaves, and nut crunch is a classic one.  And like most classics, for very good reason. This salad was so good it’s been repeated regularly this year since the figs started coming on.  It’s a starring role salad – a dinner party first course, or a totally indulgent lunch, or a plate to take to a party.  If you are in Australia, figs are now in season, and only for a little while.

The Recipe:

Turn the oven on to medium hot to heat up.

Quarter the figs, spread them out on a baking tray and drizzle them with equal quantities of balsamic vinegar and honey.  I used a tablespoon of each with six large figs cut into quarters for this platter salad I took to a party.

For the pecans, in a small saucepan, melt together a teaspoon of honey, a teaspoon of butter, juice of half an orange, a scant teaspoon of garam masala, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of chili powder. Toss the pecans in this mix and spread them out on another baking tray. (I thought about using macadamias first, but the first of ours are only just coming on now, and I still have some of last year’s pecans needing using.)

Put both trays into a medium hot oven and roast for about 20 minutes until the figs are soft and caramelised and the pecans are roasted and their marinade reduced to just a coating.

You should be left in the  fig pan with a couple of tablespoons of juice.  If it is already reduced to a syrup, then you can just cool the lot.  If it is not syrupy yet, pour it into a small saucepan and reduce. If it has turned to sticky toffee, take the figs out and add a little water to dissolve.

Arrange a bed of rocket on a serving tray. Cover with a good sprinkle of cucumber quarters, then a layer of crumbled feta, then the figs and pecans, then a light sprinkle of mint and/or basil leaves.

Drizzle the fig juice over and serve.


creamy pumpkin pasta

It’s the southern hemisphere Halloween, and I totally get it why Halloween features pumpkin lamps.  I have brush turkeys that relieve me of most of my pumpkins, but still I’m fast cycling all the pumpkin recipes and taking pumpkins with me to Bentley regularly.

Halloween is the final harvest festival, and marks the start of the season of gathering in – firewood, mulch, water, pumpkins, passata, preserves, warm clothes, books, tribe and wisdom. Traditionally, it is a time for celebrating all that has been garnered in the long term – a time for appreciating not just this year’s harvest but the harvest of the ages. A time for major feasting, and for remembering and honouring the ancestors.  It’s interesting that in Australia, of all the historical events we could have chosen, we’ve chosen Anzac Day for honouring the heroism and self sacrifice of our ancestors.  It’s almost like the cool, misty, late dawn provokes reflections about loyalty and legacy.

Halloween marks the point where the day length curve flattens out.  The days will continue to get shorter through till the winter solstice on June 21, but only by seconds a day from now on.  They are now pretty near as short as they are going to get. We’re settled in for the night of the year, the season of long evenings in front of the wood fire with a good book and reflections.    And warmly nourishing comfort food.

The Recipe

This recipe makes 2 good serves. You can scale it up easily (though you might want to use a pasta machine if you are making fresh pasta and it’s more than 4 serves).


I have just one pasta recipe, and I’ve posted it before, but I’ll repeat it here so you don’t have to click around.  You can just use bought pasta but I’ve become a solid fan of fresh made pasta in the last few years.  It really does take just minutes to make, and besides allowing me to use real free range eggs in it (and thus get all the good stuff in real eggs into the dish) it makes all the difference to the gourmetness.

In the food processor, blend:

  • one large egg (or if your egg is small, add a bit of water too)
  • ½ cup  flour – I use the high gluten unbleached baker’s flour I use for my bread, but you can use any plain flour, including wholemeal or spelt flour.
  • a swig of olive oil
  • good pinch salt

Blend until it comes together into a soft dough.  It needs to be not sticky but soft.

Flour the workbench and knead very briefly, kneading in enough more flour to make a smooth, soft, non-sticky dough. It will look like quite a small dough ball, but a little bit goes a long way.  Let it rest for a few minutes covered with a wet bowl or cup if you have time, then roll it out and cut into noodles.

For this recipe I cut it into thick tagliatelle noodles, but you can go for any shape you like.  You will find that if you flour the benchtop and keep flipping it, you can roll the dough out very fine without it sticking.  The finer the better.  If you go to the effort of rolling it out, then folding it into a block and rolling it out again, you get a denser, more al dente pasta.  But if you are going for quick and easy, rolling it out once is fine.

Sprinkle flour over the top of the rolled out dough, then roll it into a log.  Using a sharp knife, cut into noodles. You will find that if you have floured between the layers well enough, the noodles will separate nicely.

If you put a big pot of water on to boil at the same time you start the sauce, the two should be ready at more or less the same time.

The Pumpkin Sauce

Put a big, heavy fry pan on a medium hot burner with a good swig of olive oil.

Add a diced onion and get it sizzling.

Then add 1½ cups of pumpkin chopped into bite sized pieces.  Don’t dice too fine or it falls to pieces.

Crush in 3 cloves of garlic.

Cook, stirring occasionally, while you shell and chop ¼ to ½ cup of macadamia kernels.  You can substitute pine nuts or cashews, but macas are in season now and if you can get them fresh in shell, they’re so sweet and, well, nutty.  Add the macas just as the pumpkin starts to get a bit of colour.

Cook a little, then add in a handful of chopped fresh herbs.  Oregano, basil and sage all work well in different ways but oregano would be my favourite.  If you use sage, make it a smallish handful.  Grate in a good grating of black pepper.

Cook, stirring occasionally but not so much that the pumpkin breaks up, until the pumpkin is just tender.

Now is a good time to put the pasta on to cook.  It will need just two or three minutes too rise to the top and become tender, then you can drain and serve it into bowls.

While the pasta is cooking, take the pumpkin pan off the heat.  Crumble in about 60 grams of smooth white feta, like goat’s feta or Danish feta.  Stir through gently so it melts.  Don’t put it back on the heat or it might curdle. Add a spoonful of  Greek yoghurt and/or a splash milk  and stir through.  Taste and add salt to taste.  Pile it on top of the noodles and serve with grated parmesan to add to taste.



spincach and feta phyllo

My glut crop this week is spinach. The warm weather, and its age – it’s been bearing wonderfully for a few months now – are combining to make it think it is time to go to seed.  I’ll let some go to seed to collect some – this variety has been really good this year.  But for most of it, it’s time for the last spinach feast of the year.

Home-made phyllo is one of those glass-half-full, glass-half-empty things.  I could tell you that it’s really easy and worth doing since it makes phyllo really cheap and, living half an hour out of town as I do, really conveniently available.  I could also tell you that it’s not that easy – there’s a definite knack to it – and it’s near impossible to recreate the paper thin sheets of pastry that you buy, and the bought kind is just flour and water and salt so there’s no nasty ingredients to worry about anyway.  And both would be true.

I do make phyllo, but mostly because, when I get a spinach and feta phyllo triangles idea like this morning, it’s not worth a trip to town so it’s either make my own or think of another idea.  And I get stuck on ideas like that. If I had a supermarket in walking distance…hmmm…that would make it an interesting decision.

The Recipe:

Makes 2 dozen triangles. Turn the oven on to heat up.  You want a medium hot oven.

The Pastry:

If you use bought filo, skip ahead to the filling.

Mix 3 cups of plain flour (I use baker’s flour), a good pinch of salt, and ¾ cup liquid, half and half warm water and olive oil.

I use my food processor to blend the liquid into the flour to make a soft dough, but you could just as easily mix in a bowl.

Briefly knead the dough till it is smooth, then cover with a damp cloth and move on to making the filling.

The Filling

The filling works just as well with bought phyllo. This much spinach:


made two dozen triangles.

Blanch the spinach very briefly, just to wilt it, and drain well squeezing the excess water out.

Mix with:

  • a minced spring onion, greens and all
  • a small red onion, minced
  • 150 grams of feta
  • a good grating of black pepper

I also add a few sprigs of fresh dill and parsley.

I use my food processor to make the filling too, using the large julienning blade.  I like it to have a bit of texture, minced rather than blended.


Break the dough into three balls.

Flour the work surface well and roll the first one out very thin, like making handmade pasta.  If you flip it regularly, you should be able to get it very thin without creasing.

The next bit is the knack.

You need to stretch the dough so it is as thin as you can get it.  Drape the dough over the backs of your hands and gently stretch, using the weight of the dough to do most of the work.  Then work around the edge, lifting it and letting it stretch.

Don’t worry if it gets a few holes but stop before it gets too holey.

Brush the surface with olive oil, then fold in half.  If you haven’t got too many holes, with luck you will have none now. Cut the dough into strips about 7 cm wide. Brush with olive oil again.

Put a bantam egg amount of filling at one end of each strip, and fold diagonally into triangles.


Place the filled triangles on an oiled baking tray and prick with a sharp fork. Brush with olive oil.

Repeat with the other two balls of dough.

Bake for around half an hour in a medium hot oven.

They’re good hot or cold, as a party plate or snack for friends, or in lunch boxes.





My glut crop this week is chilis.   The chooks get bucketfuls. They like chilis.  Birds (all kinds) have no receptors for capsaicin, so they’re immune to chili heat.  An evolutionary strategy from chilis to get their seeds spread I guess.  There are some chilis in my garden from about November till well into winter, but this is about the peak of the season when I make Chili Jam , Pickled Chilis, Tamarillo and Chili Sauce, Kasundi, and Dried Chilis and Chili Powder so I’ve got something to add some spice to late winter and spring cooking.

But there’s a limit to my enthusiasm for preserving.  I find it easier most of the time to organise my gardening to have something fresh than it is to preserve, and better in all sorts of ways.  I never freeze or bottle vegetables or fruit these days.  Having a tiny freezer in my tiny fridge is part of it – fridges are electicity guzzlers. If I calculate in the cost of electricity or gas to bottle or freeze the saving starts to disappear rapidly.  But mostly it’s because I’ve learnt that they tend to stay in the freezer or on the shelf whilever there is a fresh alternative.  Even when my garden is a tribute to neglect, the way it is right now, there is always something fresh that I’ll go for in preference to the frozen or bottled produce.

Once I have some chili hot condiments for us and for gifting, and some dried and pickled chilis for adding some heat to cool-of-the-year dishes, I still have bushes full of chilis.  Chilis Rellenõs are a really good way to use lots of chilis in a party plate.  They are astonishingly not-hot for something made with whole chilis.  The oil in the frying and in the cheese filling mellows out the chili heat so that even people who are not red-hot spice lovers go back for seconds and thirds.

The Recipe

Makes two dozen Bishop’s Crown chilis.

Wear gloves, or really remember not to touch your eyes for hours, to deseed  your chilis.  Cut the top off each one and pull out the seeds. I use the blade of a thin knife to swivel round inside, then rinse the seeds out under running water.  Make the hole as small as you reasonably can, so the filling stays in.

The Filling:

Separate two eggs.  Keep the whites for the batter. (You may find it a little easier to whisk the whites if the eggs are a day or two old – very fresh eggs can be a little harder to whisk).

Blend the yolks with some cheese.  I use 80 grams of  feta and 4 dessertspoons of cottage cheese, but you can use whatever mixture of cheeses you like.  You are looking for a smooth filling the texture of cream cheese.  Add a cup of herbs and blend in. My first choice is lemon basil, mint and dill – all cool herbs.  But again, lots of substitutions are possible.

Use a teaspoon and your thumbs to fill the chilis.

The Batter:

Beat the egg whites with an egg beater until they form soft peaks. (This will really truly take a matter of seconds).

Sift two-thirds of a cup of plain flour or besan with a pinch of salt.  If you use wholemeal flour, discard the coarser bran you sift out.

Mix the sifted flour with two-thirds of a cup of milk to make a batter that’s just a little bit runny, then fold the batter into the beaten egg whites.


Heat about 2 cm of oil with a high smoke point in a heavy bottomed fry pan.  (I use light olive oil for frying like this.)

Dip each filled chili in batter, coating it completely, then drop it into the hot oil.  They will take just a few minutes each to cook, and it’s best not to overcrowd the pan.  Use tongs to turn them so they brown on all sides, then drain on brown paper.

They’re at their best served hot, with a cold drink and some good conversation (or salsa music!)



cheesy zucchini balls

I had many thoughts in mind for the platter this week – lots of different produce in glut and lots of occasions for sharing.  But in the end I had one of those weekends where time just runs out and I found myself ditching all the cordon bleu options and going for very quick and easy.  This is not the super healthiest of recipes but it’s a way of turning bulk zucchini into deliciousness in minutes.

The Recipe:

Makes 18 balls – a good quantity for a party plate or a platter for two with accompaniments.

Grate 1½ cups (packed) of zucchini. Put it in a strainer over the sink and squeeze out as much liquid as you easily can.  You don’t need to be too diligent, but you want it a bit drier than zucchini naturally is.

Put a thick slice of bread in the food processor and blend it to fine crumbs.  You want 65 grams, which is about a cup, of soft breadcrumbs.  I used my Eggs and Yoghurt Sourdough, but I think just about any bread would do it.

Mix the grated zucchini and the breadcrumbs with

  • 1 egg
  • 100 grams of smooth feta cheese, crumbled. (You can substitute low fat ricotta and a bit of salt, which is still good but you won’t get the same melted cheese middle).

Use your hands to mix it all together.

Grate 40 grams of parmesan cheese on the fine side of the grater, like this:


Take teaspoons full of the zucchini/feta/breadcrumbs mix, and with wet hands roll it into little balls.  It should stick together nicely.  Roll each ball in grated parmesan to coat it well.

Heat about 1 cm of light olive oil or another shallow frying oil in a heavy pan.  Fry the balls for a minute or two on each side until golden.

Drain on brown paper and serve with a chutney or salsa dipping sauce. I served these on a platter with fresh raw cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumber, which make a nice contrast for the cheesy richness, and with three salsas – pomegranate and roast chili, basil and pepita, and mango.  The pomegranate and roast chili was the best, so good that I’m going to play with it a bit more to get the quantities written down then post the recipe.


I think Yorkshire puddings are the same as popovers in USA, or almost the same.  They are crisp on the outside, almost hollow on the inside little pastries made with a very simple mix of equal parts milk, eggs, and plain flour.  These were baked in regular sized muffin tins and took 25 minutes to cook. They could probably have been a little browner, but my oven is slow to heat up and they are insanely fast and easy to mix, so they would just fit into the half hour of the  Tuesday Night Vego Challenge rules for most people with a non-antique oven.

I use wholemeal plain flour and they work fine. Real wholemeal flour from the wholefoods shop, not “wholemeal style” flour from the supermarket, which is another of those marketing deceptions that drive me nuts. If you read the fine print, wholemeal style flour is white flour with bran added back in. The problem is that wheat germ goes off. So wholegrain four with the wheat germ in it has a shorter shelf life, too short for supermarket stocking.  Lots of real down-to-earthers advocate grinding your own flour because of this. I’m just not dedicated enough to do this, but I do buy wholemeal flour in smaller quantities, regularly, from the wholefoods shop rather than the supermarket.

The other major ingredient is silverbeet, which is in season and in bulk in my garden right now, and is a superfood for a whole heap of reasons –  antioxidant beta carotene (good for protecting against aging inside and out due to cell damage), folic acid (good for immune and nervous systems), iron (good for energy),  and calcium and magnesium and vitamin K (good for bones).

The Recipe:

I’ll write the recipe out for a one person serve of two yorkshire puddings, as in the pic. The recipe scales fine – I actually made it for two this time. You just multiply by the number of people.

Put a teaspoon of olive oil in each cup in a regular sized muffin pan, and put it in the oven. Turn the oven on to heat up. You want a fairly hot oven, and a hot pan with hot oil.

Put three glasses on your bench. Break one egg per person into one glass.  Fill the second glass with milk (semi skim is fine) up to the same level and the third glass with plain wholemeal flour up to the same level.

Tip all three into the blender, or into a bowl, add a pinch of salt, and whisk or blend to mix.

When your oven and muffin tray are hot, pour the batter into the muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds full.

Put it in the oven and bake, preferably without opening the oven, for around 20 minutes till they are risen and golden brown.

While the puddings are baking, make the filling.

Strip the leaf from the stalks of 4 big silverbeet leaves per person.  Blanch them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then drain well, pushing down with a potato masher to get all the water out.

Blend the blanched silverbeet with a good dessertspoon per person of cottage cheese, and 40 grams of feta (low fat is fine) per person.  I like to add a touch of wasabi or grated horseradish too, but that’s a matter of taste.  You might prefer a little spring onion, or sauteed onion, or just as it is.

As soon as the yorkshire puddings are ready, tip them out, cut in half, and fill with the filling.  They’re best served straight away while hot.



The broad beans are bearing.  Not so many of them this year and they will run out a lot earlier than last year.  I’ve made Ful Medames a few times now, and Broad bean felafels, and we’ve had them for breakfast and as side dishes.  But this  Tuesday Night Vego Challenge features broad beans as the main attraction.

Beans in general are super healthy and have a number of characteristics that are likely to make you feel good.  They’re full of low GI carbohydates, good quality protein, soluble and non-soluble fibre, and a good range of vitamins and minerals especially B vitamins, folate and iron – which all play a role in keeping your energy levels high.  They also have a range of phytonutrients like lignans and flavonoids and sterols that play a role in warding off osteoporosis,  heart disease and the kind of cell damage that leads to cancer.  But the specialty of broad beans is that they’re a good source of  l- dopa, a precursor to dopamine. Too little dopamine  is a characteristic of  Parkinsons, and of depression and anxiety, and there’s lots of research around about broad beans for Parkinson’s and some about broad beans for depression and anxiety.

But good for you and virtuously good are only two of the three Witches Kitchen goods, and I used to think broad beans failed on number three until I discovered the north African and Middle Eastern way of cooking them with lemon, olive oil and garlic. The lemon in particular just lifts them to another dimension.  This recipe uses preserved lemon and its sweet sour salty mix is a perfect match.

The Recipe:

Makes dinner for two.

  • Saute an onion with half a teaspoon of cumin seeds and a clove of chopped garlic (or more if you are not being frugal waiting for the garlic to be ready to harvest), till the onion is translucent and the cumin seeds start to pop.
  •  Add half a cup of water and a cup of shelled broad beans and pressure cook 5 minutes, or simmer for 15.  (You might need to add a bit more water if you are simmering.)
  • Add
    • 2 dessertspoons of preserved lemon finely chopped,
    • half a cup (packed) of finely chopped flat leaf parsley, mint and coriander,
    •  juice of quarter of a lemon.
  • Cook for another 2 minutes till the liquid is pretty well all gone.
  • Turn off and add a stalk of celery, chopped, a handful of chopped rocket, and 75 grams of feta in small dice.
  • It’s best served with warm pita bread, but also good rolled up in a lettuce leaf like San Choi Bau or with couscous.



This is a bit of a  Tuesday Night Vego Challenge rules cheat.  Now the days have started really lengthening, even the geriatric chooks are laying so handmade pasta with real eggs was in my mind. And then I was looking for a cake tin deep in the back of the shelf and came across a fluted flan tin that I forgot I had.  And in a moment of inspiration realised it would work to cut pasta.  So I decided to try hand making farfalle.

The next decision was primavera with the lovely sweet baby spring vegetables, or carbonara which would use up another egg, so I compromised by combining both. The whole meal didn’t take much over the half hour of the rules, and it was quite simple and easy, but if I were making it for more than two and trying to get it done in the half hour, I think I’d go for a simpler pasta shape.

The Recipe:

Makes two adult sized serves.

The Pasta

In a food processor, blend for just a minute till it comes together into a dough:

  • ½ cup baker’s flour  (I use the same Laucke Wallaby Unbleached Bakers Flour that I use for my sourdough, but any high gluten flour will work)
  • a large egg,
  • a spoonful of olive oil,
  • a good pinch of salt.

Flour the workbench and knead very briefly, kneading in enough more flour to make a smooth, non-sticky dough. It will look like quite a small dough ball, but a little bit goes a long way.

With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out very thin.  (If you flip it several times while rolling, you’ll find you can easily get it very thin without sticking. The thinner the better.)

I put it onto a chopping board to cut, but that will depend on your bench hardiness. You can then cut it into any shape you like. To make farfalle, I used the fluted edge of the flan tin to cut the pasta into strips about 2.5 cm thick, then into 5 cm lengths.  You can fold and stack the pasta and cut 5 or 6 layers at once to make it a bit faster.  I then just squeezed the centre of each little piece of pasta to make the bow shape.  This is the bit that takes time. Kids may enjoy helping.

Put a pot of water on to boil and leave the pasta spread out to dry a little while you make the sauces.

The Carbonara:

You don’t need to wash the food processor.

Blend together:

  • egg
  • 80 grams of low fat feta
  • 2 big dessertspoons of low fat cottage cheese

The Primavera:

They are all fresh vegetables that take no time to cook, so this will come together in 5 minutes;

In a heavy frypan, with a little olive oil, add (in more or less this order, giving it a stir with each addition)

  • a small leek, finely chopped
  • a handful of  single shelled broad beans
  • 4 or 5 leaves of kale or silver beet, or a couple of each (just the greens, not the stems)
  • a big handful of shelled fresh peas
  • a big handful of snow peas, chopped into bites
  • a dozen or so olives, roughly chopped
  • half a dozen spears of fresh asparagus, any woody bits removed and roughly chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a heaped dessertspoon of chopped fresh mint. (The fresh mint really changes it – it’s not essential  but really worth adding)
Take the pan off the heat and put a lid on it to conserve the heat.


  • Cook the pasta in the pot of boiling water until it rises to the surface, which will be in about 2 minutes.
  • Reserve a little of the cooking water and drain the pasta, then return it to the hot pot.
  • Blend a little of the cooking water in with the carbonara sauce to make a cream consistency, then gently toss it through the pasta in the hot pot. Put the lid on and leave for a minute for the egg to just coddle a little and thicken the sauce.
  • Add the vegetables, toss through and serve, with a grating of parmesan and black pepper on top.